NASCAR viewer’s guide: Nashville Superspeedway

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NASCAR returns in full force this weekend with racing in the Cup, Xfinity and Truck series at Nashville Superspeedway in Lebanon, Tenn.

NBC and the USA Network open coverage of the second half of the season with broadcasts of Saturday’s Xfinity (USA) and Sunday’s Cup (NBC) race. USA also will televise Xfinity and Cup practice Friday and Xfinity and Cup qualifying Saturday.

NASCAR returned to the 1.33-mile Nashville track last season. Kyle Larson won the first Cup race at the track, leading 264 of the 300 laps, including the final 78.

Larson The Favorite?

Kyle Larson figures to carry the favorite’s role into Sunday’s race. In last year’s race, which was run in pounding heat, his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet smashed the rest of the field as he led 264 laps and won by 4.33 seconds, an eternity in today’s NASCAR. He sped away as the final 68 laps were run under green.

The win was Larson’s fourth of the season. He was second in Stage 1 and first in Stage 2.

He’ll be looking for a rebound of sorts after two straight finishes of 12th or worse.

The weekend landscape will be new for Larson as he teams with Kevin Meendering, the No. 5 team’s interim crew chief. Meendering, a Hendrick veteran, replaces Cliff Daniels, who was suspended for four weeks after Larson’s car lost a wheel in the last race at Sonoma Raceway.

Wheels Up — And Off

Kyle Larson’s team is the latest to be penalized for wheels that wander off race cars.

Other drivers who have been nailed this year: Justin Haley (Daytona), Kaz Grala (Daytona), Todd Gilliland (Auto Club), Corey LaJoie (Phoenix), Bubba Wallace (COTA), BJ McLeod (Talladega), Denny Hamlin (Dover), AJ Allmendinger (Dover) and Justin Haley (Kansas).

Trent Owens (Haley) is scheduled to return to competition this weekend after serving four-week suspensions for lost wheels. This race is the final one Chris Gabehart (Hamlin) will miss as part of his four-race suspension.

Bubbling Up

The Nashville Cup race marks the first of 10 consecutive events leading to the end of the regular season.

Over that stretch, the remaining slots in the 16-driver playoff field will be filled. And some significant names are currently on the outside looking in.

Prominent among them is Kevin Harvick, who is one position and seven points below the cutoff line. Following Harvick in the “hopeful” list are Tyler Reddick (42 points out), Austin Dillon (47 points) and Erik Jones (55 points).

Of course, a win solves problems. Twelve drivers are in with wins. Among those still looking for a win are Martin Truex Jr., Ryan Blaney, Brad Keselowski, Bubba Wallace, Christopher Bell and Harvick, who hasn’t won in 59 consecutive races and has led only 13 laps this year.

Entry lists

Thirty-six drivers are entered in Sunday’s Cup race, including JJ Yeley in the Rick Ware Racing No. 15, AJ Allmendinger in the Kaulig Racing No. 16 and Josh Bilicki in the Spire Motorsports No. 77.

Allmendinger, the Xfinity Series point leader, has raced seven times in Cup this year with a top finish of 10th at Gateway.

Nashville Cup entry list

Forty-one drivers are entered for Saturday’s Xfinity race. Among those on the list are Trevor Bayne, Ryan Preece, Jeffrey Earnhardt, Tyler Reddick and Natalie Decker, who is looking for her second start this year. She finished 35th at Martinsville.

Nashville Xfinity entry list

Veteran Todd Bodine is among the 41 entries for Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race. The grid will hold 36 trucks.

Corey Heim and Ryan Preece are among other drivers on the entry list.

Nashville Truck entry list

This weekend’s schedule and forecast

(All times Eastern)

Friday, June 24

Forecast: Mostly sunny. High of 95 degrees

  • 4 – 4:30 p.m. — Truck practice (FS1)
  • 4:30 – 5:30 p.m. — Truck qualifying (FS1)
  • 5:35 – 6:25 p.m. — Xfinity practice (USA)
  • 6:30 – 7:20 p.m. — Cup practice (USA, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM Radio)
  • 8 p.m. — Truck race (FS1, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM Radio)

Saturday, June 25

Forecast: Partly cloudy. High of 97 degrees

  • Noon – 12:50 p.m. — Xfinity qualifying (USA)
  • 1 – 2:20 p.m. — Cup qualifying (USA, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM Radio)
  • 3:30 p.m. – Xfinity race (188 laps, 250 miles; USA, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM Radio)

Sunday, June 26

Forecast: Partly cloudy with afternoon showers or thunderstorms. High of 96 degrees. 60 percent chance of rain

  • 5 p.m. — Cup race (300 laps, 399 miles; NBC, Peacock, Motor Racing Network, SiriusXM Radio)

 

 

 

Sponsor adds more races in 2023 with Josh Berry

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Jarrett Companies will increase the number of races it will sponsor Josh Berry‘s No. 8 JR Motorsports ride in 2023, the Xfinity Series team announced Monday.

Jarrett Companies will sponsor Berry in six races after serving as the primary sponsor in three races in 2022. Those six races will be Phoenix (March 11), Richmond (April 1), Dover (April 29), Atlanta (July 8), Indianapolis (Aug. 12) and Texas (Sept. 23).

The deal gives Berry at least 26 races with sponsorship for next season. Bass Pro Shops will serve as the primary sponsor of Berry’s car in 11 races in 2023. Tire Pros is back with JRM and will sponsor Berry in nine races in the upcoming season.

Berry, who reached the Xfinity title race and finished fourth in the points, will have a new crew chief in 2023. Taylor Moyer will take over that role with Mike Bumgarner serving as JRM’s director of competition.

The 2023 Xfinity season begins Feb. 18 at Daytona International Speedway.

 

Where are they now? Buddy Parrott enjoying down time

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Buddy Parrott played outsized roles in two of the most dramatic races in NASCAR history.

Now 83 years old and retired from the sport since 2001, Parrott looks back on those two days as highlights of a career that began in the early 1970s.

In the 1990 Daytona 500, champion driver Dale Earnhardt seemed on course to end his frustration in NASCAR’s biggest event. He held the lead roaring down the backstretch on the last lap. Suddenly, Earnhardt slowed with a blown tire.

The lead was inherited by Derrike Cope, who charged to the checkered flag to score one of racing’s biggest upsets.

Parrott was Cope’s crew chief.

MORE: NASCAR Power Rankings: Memorable quotes through the years

In 1984, Richard Petty edged Cale Yarborough to win the summer race at Daytona International Speedway. It was Petty’s 200th – and final – win.

Parrott was Petty’s crew chief.

Those victories were high marks in a long pit-road career that saw Parrott’s drivers win dozens of races. He worked with, among others, Darrell Waltrip, Rusty Wallace, Jeff Burton and Petty and for team owners Jack Roush and Roger Penske.

Parrott remains active at 83, although he admits to having moved to a slower gear.

“I haven’t been living on the edge,” Parrott told NBC Sports. “I’ve been taking it really easy. I told my sons when you get to be 80 you can do anything you want because basically you’ve already done it.”

MORE: NASCAR, ARCA 2023 schedules

His strongest current connection to NASCAR is as a voter in the annual Hall of Fame balloting.

After more than 20 years roaming pit roads as a crew chief, Parrott moved into a general manager role at Roush Racing in 1997. He retired four years later and didn’t look back.

“I finally told Jack one day, ‘I don’t have time to ride my motorcycle,’ ” Parrott said. “He looked at me and said, ‘What do you want to do about it?’ I said, ‘I’m ready to retire.’ He told me I could work whatever schedule I wanted, but I decided that was it. I didn’t have a going-away thing or whatever.”

Parrott spent much of the next 15 years traveling with his wife, Judy, who died in 2016, and playing with his grandchildren.

“I had a great time in retirement because Judy was ready and I was ready,” he said. “We had a lot of fun. We’d go to Florida for two and three months at a time. I’m so happy that I didn’t hang on and go to the shop every day and try to find something to do. I spent that time with Judy, and we had 16 years of good retirement.”

Parrott, a native of Gastonia, N.C., lives in Statesville, N.C. His sons, Todd and Brad, also were NASCAR crew chiefs.

MORE: Jody Ridley’s Dover win an upset for the ages

Parrott is perhaps best remembered as crew chief for Rusty Wallace, Team Penske and the No. 2 black cars sponsored by Miller Lite. From 1992-94, they won 19 races and were consistently competitive at the front.

“I still get a lot of cards sent to me to sign from those years,” Parrott said. “I can say that was some of the happiest times I had. Those years with Rusty – and then with Jack Roush – really stand out. And who in the hell could not have fun having a beer sponsor?”

 

 

NASCAR Awards to air at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Joey Logano didn’t need much time to answer the question.

Who would the two-time Cup champion want to introduce him at the NASCAR Awards?

Racing icon Mario Andretti, Logano immediately said. 

And there was Andretti on the stage at the Music City Center introducing Logano, the 2022 Cup champion. Watch that and the rest of the night’s festivities at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock. You can order Peacock here.

MORE: See the red carpet scene

MORE: Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

NBC Sports’ Marty Snider and Kim Coon co-hosted the show along with Fox Sports’ Kaitlyn Vincie. The Cup, Xfinity and Truck champions were honored. Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, whose father died hours after Gibbs won the Xfinity title last month, received a standing ovation and thanked the industry for its support.

The highlight of the night for Logano was having Andretti on stage to introduce him.

“He’s just been a great role model for me, not only as a racer, but as a person for so long,” Logano said afterward. “I had his picture on my wall. I looked at Mario Andretti before I went to sleep every night as a kid. I thought it was the coolest thing that he signed it to me.”

NASCAR Awards and Champion Celebration
Cup champion Joey Logano on stage with racing icon Mario Andretti during the NASCAR Awards in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

Logano and Andretti have gotten to know each other through the years. Logano ran a throwback car that honored Andretti at Darlington Raceway in 2015 and 2021.

But none of that compared to being on stage with Andretti.

“That’s still like a pinch-me moment,” Logano said. “It’s Mario Andretti. He’s the man. The fact that he knows my name I think is really, really cool.”

Catch the NASCAR Awards at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock

Sport shows support for Gibbs family at NASCAR Awards

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The NASCAR community showed its support Thursday at the NASCAR Awards for the Gibbs family, grieving the death of Coy Gibbs on Nov. 6. 

During his interview on stage, car owner Joe Gibbs thanked the NASCAR industry for its support. (The NASCAR Awards show airs at 8 p.m. ET Saturday on Peacock).

Coy Gibbs, son of Joe Gibbs and father of Xfinity champion Ty Gibbs, died hours after seeing Ty Gibbs win the series title last month at Phoenix Raceway. Coy Gibbs, 49, was the vice chairman and chief operating officer at Joe Gibbs Racing.

Steve O’Donnell, NASCAR chief operating officer, introduced Ty Gibbs at the NASCAR Awards and noted that “everyone gathered tonight is all a part of the NASCAR family, and I know I speak for everyone that the entire NASCAR family is 100% percent behind this young man.”

Ty Gibbs received a standing ovation.

“Thank you,” he told the crowd, “that means a lot.”

Ty Gibbs spoke for less than a minute, thanking his team, sponsors, fans and the NASCAR community.

He closed his speech by saying “And thanks to my family. I love you. I hope everybody has a great offseason. Enjoy it. Thank you for all the support. Thank you for all the claps. I really appreciate it.”

Ty Gibbs spoke to the media earlier Thursday. Asked how he was doing, he said: “I’ve been doing good. Thank you for asking and definitely appreciate you guys. We’ve been doing good, doing a lot of stuff this week. … It’s been fun to experience this stuff.”

Asked about Joe Gibbs addressing the organization after Coy’s death, Ty Gibbs politely said: “For right now, I’m not going to touch on any of that subject at all. I’m just going to stick with all the racing questions and go from there.”

Cup champion Joey Logano said he spent time with 20-year-old Ty Gibbs on Wednesday at the champion’s dinner.

Logano said he told Ty Gibbs that “we’re here for you. You need something reach out.”